Since for as long as I can remember, my parents have taught me that it doesn't matter how much talent you have, you are not more prominent than the team. I am sure you can relate to a team you've been in that does not work. It is thought 60% of teams fail in achieving their goals according to research by Ken Blanchard. There are several reasons for this, but one issue I feel that teams fail is the inability for people to work together - i.e., lack of chemistry.

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." – Michael Jordan

Square Peg - Round Hole

Recruitment often focuses on what hard skills a candidate will have, but rarely focus on how that person fits into the team. Candidates often can tell a great story at the interview, but until they are in the organization - it is difficult to understand how well they will fit. Generally speaking, the more talented a person is, the more ego they carry - leading to an ineffective team that begins to lose sight of the objective.

Recruitment cannot solely be blamed, and teams can be made up of long-running staff members to staff who have been there a shorter time. Chemistry cannot be guaranteed in this situation too.

Whenever a team is formed, the Tuckman model does an excellent job of explaining the stages a team goes through before becoming effective. The critical step I am describing here is the Storming stage. Storming occurs as team members start to battle for position and establish themselves in the team. The reality is not all teams pass the storming stage and ultimately fail.

Teams need to focus on their chemistry

Keep an eye on your teams' chemistry and listen to the team leaders to keep up to date on how your team functions are essential.

  • Cooperation - Teams with strong chemistry will cooperate and work together if they get on well. The result is a high performing team you can trust to deliver. Too much ego in the team will cause fragmentation and power struggles.
  • Success - A team of individuals working to their own goals will not achieve the progress required for success. Chemistry ensures a team will work together focussed around a shared vision.
  • Attendance - Strong chemistry in the team and members who enjoy working together can improve attendance that is associated with stress, lack of interest, and low morale.
  • Shared Improvements - A team working well together means that there is a collective shared learning, which benefits the individual team members.
  • Better Communication - A team who work together and understand each other will communicate easily and more effectively. This can aid psychological safety in the team, knowing that everyone is there for each other.
  • Fun - Perhaps underpinning all of the above is that if the team has a bond held together by chemistry is that everyone has fun and works in a relaxed environment.
"No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team." – Reid Hoffman

Reshape The Teams Edges

To avoid failing, we need to get past the storming stage of team formation. Sure, talent is important; we need people with skills to be able to do the job. However, we equally need to balance the team with chemistry to ensure everyone works together. So how do we achieve this?

Shared Vision

The team should be reminded of what the goal is and what the team is attempting to achieve.

Clear Roles

Everyone on the team should know the role of each of the members and the boundaries of their responsibility.

Helping Behavior

Encourage your team to help each other and cheer each other on. Create psychological safety in the team and ensure no one feels singled out for mistakes.

Being Social

Get together at work and after work. Not everyone will feel comfortable attending social events outside the team, but this can strengthen bonds. As a leader, find out a fact about the team member so you can relate to them on a level that does not work.

Shared Leadership

Create an environment where there is one decision-maker but shared leadership within the team, giving everyone a feeling of responsibility.

No Negativity

Focus on positivity and be committed as a team to weed out negativity. Human behavior is to have a negative bias, so you need to work hard as a team to achieve this.

Consistency

Keep the team size manageable and consistent - a team that works with each other longer can learn shared experiences that can form stronger bonds.


Final Thoughts.

The article has discussed the need for good team chemistry to achieve success. There are a few simple things that the team can do, and it is important for the success of the team. These common agreements are set up when the team is formed. Failing to do so is setting the team up for failure.


Talent is required, but it needs to be balanced with good team chemistry. If the chemistry is too low, the team won't deliver no matter how talented the individuals.  To achieve team success and chemistry, the team would benefit from a T-Shape structure (multiple skillsets), yet all are working to a common goal. Diverse teams made up of solid professionals and mavericks - win!


Remember, not all teams make it past storming, and sometimes removing the wrong people in the team can be as effective as hiring the right people.